|The Greens campaign....
BELAIR LINE TO CLOSE FOR 6 MONTHS IN 2013
In January 2013 the Belair train line will close for 6 months. The Government plans to provide the same type of substitute bus service they used during the 2009 closure.
This service was not up to scratch because it was slow and unreliable. Substitute buses will take over an hour to and from the city.
Last time, most train users voted with their feet and made other arrangements such as driving all or part of the way. This time we haven’t even got the Tonsley train as an alternative.
Surely there are better options?
What Are The Alternatives?
Why not keep the train running between Belair and Mitcham (as no works are proposed for this stretch of track)?
What about express buses?
Could alternative existing bus routes be upgraded? (e.g. Main/Belair Rds or Shepherds Hill/Goodwood Rds)
What about bikes and passengers with mobility issues?
On Monday 26th November, Mark held a Greens public meeting held in Blackwood and invited the Minister for Transport Services, Chloe Fox MP, and departmental staff to attend and respond to community concerns.
As a result of this meeting, the Greens were pleased to have secured at least 14 express bus services to supplement the completely inadequate replacement timetable announced in late November.
The concession was announced by Transport Services Minister Chloe Fox at the packed public meeting.
“Whilst express buses should reduce travelling time during peak hours, the clear preference of the 300 people attending the public meeting was to keep the train line open as far as Mitcham station and then run buses for the last few kilometers into the City”, said Mark Parnell after the meeting.
The “Belair to Mitcham” option was the subject of a Motion moved by the Greens in State Parliament two weeks ago.
“After questioning from the audience, Government officials conceded that this option was technically viable and similar in cost to the replacement buses, however it was ruled out on the grounds that it didn’t provide sufficient additional time saving. This conclusion was rejected by most passengers who preferred the more reliable and comfortable train option over crowded buses winding through narrow hills streets before the stomach-churning run past Windy Point down Belair Road.
“I’m pleased that Transport Services Minister Chloe Fox agreed to front an auditorium full of angry train commuters and that she has now agreed to schedule some express buses. However, there is still much more that needs to be done to prevent the predicted wholesale abandonment of public transport by frustrated Hills commuters. The Greens will continue to advocate for a better deal for the travelling public that reduces road congestion and gets patrons to their destinations faster,” said Mark.
Motion in Parliament
On Wednesday 28th November, Mark moved the following motion in the Legislative Council:
That this council—
(a) The packed public meeting on Monday night at the Blackwood High School called by the Greens to discuss alternative services for commuters on the Belair train when the train line is closed from 2013 for up to eight months;
(b) The serious concerns expressed at the meeting about the impact of the closure of the Belair line (along with the Noarlunga and Tonsley lines) on traffic congestion on southern arterial roads and the subsequent reliability of the substitute bus timetable;
(c) The range of positive alternative solutions proposed by the community, including boosting existing regular bus services along Shepherds Hill and Unley Roads, more scheduled express bus services and improved siting of the Eden Hills bus stop.
(d) The deep disappointment expressed at the meeting that the transport department had failed to adequately talk to the community first about what alternative services would work best for commuters; and
(e) That keeping the train running between Belair and Mitcham is not only technically viable, but cost comparable and delivers many benefits for commuters, and that this option, not surprisingly, remains the most popular alternative for Mitcham Hill residents.
2. Calls on the transport services minister to deliver on a range of options canvassed at the meeting, including—
(a) More scheduled express bus services in a revised timetable that is both credible and reliable;
(b) An increase in the number of scheduled existing bus services, including the G30 and 195/196 services;
(c) A review of the location of the proposed Eden Hills station substitute bus stop; and
(d) A commitment to consult better with affected commuters before, during and after the proposed rail closure.
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